Memories and the OB Spaceman

by on September 27, 2010 · 17 comments

in Culture, History, OB Heroes, OB Time Machine, Ocean Beach

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The OB Spaceman, aka Clint Cary, in his later years.

By Warren Patch

Ocean Beach has always been a colorful place. The Hippies seem to perpetually reinvent themselves there; long hair, short hair, dread hair, dirty hair, blue hair, no hair, it’s all cool. And tie-dye is still vogue. I buy mine at Sunshine Daydreams on Newport Avenue.

One of the all-time great characters of OB was Clint Carey, alias OB SPACEMAN. He used to sell plots of land on the moon. And he was the only OB’cean who had personally met the “Outer Space People” when they came visiting, and he alone was authorized to sell tickets for spaceship rides when they returned. I hear that people are still holding onto their tickets—just in case. In his latter days, as an old alcoholic, suffering from terminal diabetes, wheelchair-bound and blind, he sold little psychedelic paintings that he made on 3X5 heavy card stock. I still keep my SPACEMAN painting.

The first high school surfing contest that I ever entered was at Ocean Beach. It was a cold, gray morning and I was bundled up in my beach towel, shivering on the beach, when I heard Doug Smith, the man on the microphone, interrupt the contest to proclaim, “Hey everybody! Here comes OB Spaceman! Hey OB! Why don’t you come over here and say ‘Hello’ to the crowd?”

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“Space Tree” by OB Spaceman. Painting was given to Frank Gormlie by OB Spaceman circa 1973. Currently it sits in the OB Rag office.

Being an inlander, I had never heard of OB Spaceman. But when I looked up, I saw a sixty-something-year-old man in long gray hair and goatee, with a big cartoon grin on his face, swaggering up the beach wearing Captain America red-white-and-blue bellbottom pants, throwing double peace signs to the crowd. (This was back when “Tricky Dick” was in office.) In a raspy, early-morning alcoholic’s voice, he croaked through the microphone:

Hey everybody! I’m glad to be here. I just got outta’ da hospital. See, last Sunday night I was riding my Harley on the OB Pier. And I was going so fast that I crashed through the railing at the end. When I hit the water the waves were so hot ‘n glassy that I got third degree burns all over my whole body. And they had to pick the glass outta’ my eyes!

For a moment I forgot all about the cold of the morning as I giggled over the old man’s wit.

OB SPACEMAN is now long gone. Yet every time that I see his picture in Hodads, upending a bottle of cheap Gallo wine, above the Illinois license plate— BOOZER—I think back to that morning and smile. That’s OB’s legacy. He made us smile.

Warren Patch is a long-time Ocean Beach chiropractor with his office at the corner of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Santa Monica.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar renesands September 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

“OB OB OB” accompanied by a shaka-bra gesture, LONG before I ever saw the Hawaiian version.

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avatar Danny Morales September 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm

…yeah, it was sad to watch the O.B. Spaceman secumb to the disease of alcoholism.
He just sort of degenerated over the years. Of course some people would have said good riddance as his exploits were not all of the hippie/far out man variety…but those renditions of the planet “Rilispore” were…far out man!

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avatar Marilyn Reed September 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I met Spaceman the day before my daughter Lucy was born. He gave me a space number for myself and one for the baby. This was 7/22/77. When I went into labor that night we always figured Lucy was waiting for that space card to be born. I still have the cards. I have a beautiful picture of Spaceman holding Lucy when she came home from the hospital. Later when she was three we saw him in the laundrymat drunker that a skunk, but he remembered Lucy and made a drawing for her on a big long piece of cardboard out of the trash with magic markers. It is a castle on an island out in the ocean. It is quite profound. In his later years, he got into a fight and was cut in the eye with a bottle in the alley behind apple tree. When they took him away, he was in colorado for a few years, and we were sure he was dead. He arose like a pheonix from the ashes when he came back to OB. He was blind, but he still painted his spin art and wrote books. I have his books. By that time he had gone Christian and no longer wrote about his trips to Rilispore. I miss the cottage by the pier with all the beautiful strange paintings on the walls and ceilings., and I miss my friend. He is still around though, like a phantom on teeshirts, on the wall in Hodads– a few years ago I was at a church and they found one of his paintings stored away in a closet. It is a big penis and on the back it says “To Jan with the big boobs”. I had to laugh. Everyone wanted to know if it was authentic. I’m sure it is.

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avatar Terrie Leigh Relf September 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm

He gave me a ticket once. . .Wish I still had it. When I was in High School, and my early 20s, I used to come down to OB all the time to go to the Strand (back when it was a venue with the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday at midnight. . .), etc. When I first moved to OB about three years ago, several of my friends teased me, saying: “Are you going to fill in for the OB Spaceman?

I am a SF/UFO enthusiast, etc., but just in case any of my friends out there are reading this, I may be an alien visiting your planet, but I’m not going to sell tickets any time soon.

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avatar James September 29, 2010 at 7:07 am

Where have the good times gone. I remember when life was simple and america was still on top.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

Yeah, well, then we got Ronald Reagan and an entire generation of damn-government, full-speed ahead Republican masters.

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avatar Danny Morales September 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

For many of us the time when “life was simple and america was on top” signifies violence, racism, sexual predation and drug addiction. For many of us “these are the good old days!” Check out the T.V. series “Mad Men” for some insight into the culture of the early 1960′s and enjoy your nostalgia shaken but not stirred.

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avatar Kathryn Rogers October 20, 2010 at 7:29 am

I too met the Spaceman when I was a teen and dating a guy who lived in one of the cottages at the base of the pier. I was lucky enough to get my own ticket although it sadly has been misplaced decades ago. Drats… will they still let me on board if I don’t have my number?

His paintings were fantastic. They were so realistic and totally REAL. They had so much detail that you just knew he had seen them in person.

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avatar Allen Lewis February 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

Boy do I have stores about Space Man. When I was a surfer kid and the sun of a OB early surfer ( in the day of the planks as they were called in the 50′s)drunk artist Beat. If I remember he showed up around 1960 or so,he seemed to always be around with that bottle of Pink WhitePort in his trunks. The first car I stole was his, and he started my first band. He said he was buying a Yacht over in Shelter Island and he wanted a band to play at his party. So we went down to this nice boat about 34′ and setup and started to? jam. It didn’t take long for the broker to show up and kick us off. His real name is Clint Carey, he was a business man in the mid west and ran for Mayer.When a friend and I was nosing around at his place we found a news paper about when he was running. I must say the coolest guy I remember from that time was Shoe Shine Willie, his stand was in front of Woodies Shoe Repair.

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avatar Rick Ward March 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm

When we were kids Spaceman would give me and my cousin,Andy,a nickle each to go into Newport Liquor to buy some candy.Newport Liquor was located where the Inbetween wa/is now.(’91). While we were shopping for our goodies he would shoplift a fifth. As for the Harley on the pier goes,I got the story from my mom’s sister, Liz Cox, that Spacie was popp ed for riding his bicycle on the un-finished pier.When he went to court on the ticket,he was wearing a rain coat and carrying his purse.The purse was for his artist supplies.

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avatar Roger April 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I knew the Spaceman for a number of years. For awhile he stayed at the Ocean Beach Hotel right across from the waves. (San Vincente Inn, back then…) I have a space number, and, of course, we would chat from time to time. He used to be a Congressman, many years ago back in Wisconsin or Minnesota some place. My mom ran the San Vicente Inn for the owner back in the late 60′s and early 70′s. We used to live on Venice and Cape May av up the hill from OB, and I sent to OB Elementary, later to Collier Jr. High, then Point Loma High. Stratty Paras was a good friend, too, way back when…How about Sulek’s Waffle Den? The Strand Theatre was a quarter.

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avatar Roger July 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

You guys still alive down there?

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avatar Roger July 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I remember the “old” math. New way of posting, eh? I lived at 4412 Cape May Ave, and 2052 Venice St, both houses. Vesta M. Peterson was the principle at OB elementary back in the fifties.

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avatar Roger February 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Where is everybody? I was down at the pier about ten days ago and just chilled. Then went over to Nati’s and had Albondigas Soup and some hamburger meat tacos. (that’s all they had in the beginning, before they added chicken, shredded beef, etc.) In four months I’ll be 68. So much has changed. I’d give my eye teeth to move back, but I don’t have any eye-teeth! LOL!!! So much has changed. Does anyone know whatever happened to Stratty Paras? The people at Lloyd’s toy store?, the people at Homer’s Variety store? Virgil’s market? (later on Thrify Market, where I worked one summer.) Old Ward’s drugstore (Sav-All drugs.) I used to know the pharmacist, and his daughter, Sue Ward. Linda Wagner? I drove for ABC cab company (owned back then by Perry Black, who supposedly won it in a poker game in 1950. I sure miss the Strand Theater and the saturday matinees for a quarter. When Cornet’s came along, Homer’s still survived. Village townhouse number two (old Sulek’s Waffle Den) Rexall Drugs. So little left, except Nati’s and Pacific Shores, and the Arizona, they’re still around. Remember the OB kite festival every March? We kids at OB Elementary would march down to the beach carrying our kites that we had made at school. Vesta Petersen was the principal. Remember Mr. Lee, Mr. Webster, Mr. Grant? Mr. McLaren? The old priest and his dog who’d come to you and say “God loves ya, honey!” I guess the Little Chef is still there. How about Dr.Oster, Dr. Berrett? Dr. MacDonald? are any of these people still alive? Meyers and Stewart long gone. I remember when they put in the Denny’s. Mayfair market, etc. Well, theBlack is still there, I guess….

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avatar Katie Rogers February 4, 2013 at 11:24 am

Thanks for all those memories! My parents owned Homers Variety Store and I used to work there. They sadly have passed on but I’m still kicking. I’m now in Arkansas which I absolutely love but miss all those places and of course the beach and ocean…. I can still hear and feel the surf and smell the ocean’s salt sea tang and in my minds eye!

I probably knew you. I went by Gypsy in the 60′s.

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avatar Donn "O.Z." Osier May 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

The Spaceman, the Pier, the beach, Rocky Horror at the Strand (after several cold ones) and getting smoked at the Newport just across the street. A safe haven for a guy from Maine that was in the Navy. If not for the Spaceman, OB would not have felt so much like home away from home. He introduced me to many locals who became friends. I lost my ticket years ago, but recently opened an old box, and on top was a Spaceman of OB bumper sticker……boy, that brought back a flood of memories!

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avatar Travis August 23, 2014 at 4:05 am

I never meet the spaceman, but my friend greg wrote the play about him and new him well. he and another friend of mine have some of the origanal paintings! I also am from Maine and have been here for about 10 years. Would love to here some of your stories about spaceman and about maine.

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